Wed, Dec 07, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Halliburton destroyed key oil spill evidence: BP

THE BLAME GAME:The accusation against Halliburton was one of several in a 310-page motion filed by BP as firms spar over blame for the Deepwater Horizon blast and oil spill

AP, NEW ORLEANS

BP, in a high-stakes court filing on Monday, accused Halliburton of destroying damaging evidence about the quality of its cement slurry that went into drilling the oil well that blew out last year and caused the worst-ever US offshore oil spill.

BP accused Halliburton of having intentionally destroyed evidence about possible problems with its cement slurry poured into the deep-sea Macondo well about 160km off the Louisiana coast. An oil well must be cemented properly to avoid blowouts.

Also in the documents filed in a New Orleans federal court, BP accused Halliburton of failing to produce incriminating computer modeling evidence. BP accused Halliburton of claiming that the modeling is gone.

BP asked US District Judge Carl Barbier to penalize Halliburton and order a court-sponsored computer forensic team to recover the missing modeling results.

Halliburton did not return a call seeking comment, but told other media outlets that the accusations were untrue.

The allegations in the 310-page motion ratcheted up the showdown among BP and contractors, Halliburton and Transocean. The three companies have been sparring over blame for the Deepwater Horizon blast in April last year, which killed 11 workers and led to the release of 780 million liters of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. So far, BP, the majority owner of the Macondo well, has footed the bill for the emergency response and cleanup.

Also involved are Anadarko Petroleum and Cameron International.

The first trial over the Deepwater Horizon disaster is scheduled to start on Feb. 27 in New Orleans. The first leg is expected to take about three months and determine the liability of each company involved in drilling the Macondo well. There will be other phases over cleanup costs, -punitive -damages and other claims.

Federal and independent investigations of the disaster have found fault in Halliburton’s cement job because it failed to properly plug the well. Halliburton used a foamy cement slurry.

In Monday’s court filing, BP accused Halliburton employees doing an internal investigation of the Macondo disaster of discarding and destroying early test results they performed on the same batch of cement slurry used in the well.

BP said Halliburton’s chief cement mixer for Gulf projects -testified in depositions that the cement slurry seemed “thin” to him, but that he chose not to write about his findings to his bosses out of fear he would be misinterpreted.

“I didn’t want to put anything on an e-mail that could be twisted and turned,” Rickey Morgan, the Halliburton cement expert, said in depositions.

He worked at a laboratory in Duncan, Oklahoma.

“Upon reviewing these latest testing results, Halliburton employees destroyed records of the testing as well as the physical cement samples used in the testing,” BP said.

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